Hazard Reporting Forms in Aviation Risk Management Process
Hazard reporting can be seen as the beginning of the aviation risk management cycle in aviation safety management systems (SMS).
Is this the first step in risk management? We shouldn't say this because the people reporting issues must be trained on what type of reports the safety team wishes to manage.
Consequently, safety training and safety promotion activities are the first steps in aviation risk management activities.
Hazard report forms provide structure to the hazard reporting process. Hazard report forms are commonly suited to a particular purpose or type of aviation service provider. Different operators have different needs because aviation service providers provide specialty services in their region or industry segment.
Report Forms in Integrated Safety and Quality Management Systems
Aviation hazard reporting forms can be tailored for integrated safety and quality management systems, regardless whether they are
- Scheduled or on-demand operators;
- Flight schools;
- Aviation maintenance organizations;
- Military or police operations; and
- Fixed based operators.
Unique industry segments may require different types of information to manage the reported hazard. For example, an aviation maintenance organization may want to collect information about aircraft parts, ATA codes or aircraft types, while a flight school may be more interested in information regarding students.
Hazard Report Forms Not Just for Reporting Hazards
Hazard report forms may not be the best term for these reporting forms. The title makes on believe that an aviation SMS program is only interested in potential or identified "hazards."
There is actually more to this story. While reporting forms are useful for reporting hazards, they are also designed for:
- Accidents (an unintended event that causes damage to persons or property);
- Incidents (an unintended event with the potential of causing damage to persons or property); and
- Other irregularities (including hazards).
Reporting forms are used for actual and potential events, or occurrences. Some safety programs use the term "safety occurrence" or "incident," but we feel there are also limiting terms, as "occurrence" and "incident" implies that something has occurred. The best term we have seen for hazard reporting is "issue reporting," as an issue can be both actual or potential. Using a generic term like "issue reporting" does not limit the scope to simply safety or security.
The term "issue reporting" can be extended for other risk management systems that have been adopted by the aviation industry.
Hazard Report Forms Not Just for Safety
Reporting forms for hazards (accidents, incidents, irregularities) need not be limited to only aviation safety-related issues. Modern aviation safety and quality programs encourage employees, customers, and other stakeholders to report issues related to:
- Quality (customer service);
- Compliance (regulatory and contractual); and
Pure, homogeneous management systems are designed to manage one of these types of issues.
The most efficient aviation service providers have recognized considerable benefits by extending one management system to accommodate issues that would normally exceed their original scope. For example, we commonly see airlines and airports use flexible safety management system (SMS) software to manage their quality management systems (QMS). Other operators also include their security department's issue management in their aviation SMS program.
Integrated Management Systems Require Generic Reporting Forms
For safety managers wanting to integrate their airline or airport's quality program into a safety program requires at least one hazard reporting form that captures information suitable for a sustainable quality management system.
Most aviation SMS programs have reporting forms for:
- Flight safety;
- Aviation maintenance;
- Cabin safety;
- Air traffic control; and
- General safety.
A very simple approach to include quality issues would be to have a "General Safety" or "General Issue" reporting form. This reporting form could be used for
- Fitting of wrong parts;
- Loose objects left in aircraft;
- Gear pins not removed before departure;
- Installation of wrong parts;
- Unruly pax;
- Intoxicated pax;
- Lost baggage;
- Passenger complaints;
- Ticketing problems; and
- Boarding problems.
These above issues may not prove to be immediate safety concerns (some of these are). There may not be a suitable reporting form in your aviation SMS program to deal with these "generic quality issues;" therefore, they can be easily submitted using your safety program's generic hazard reporting form.
Final Thoughts on Safety and Quality Reporting Forms
Safety and quality management systems require systematic review. Reporting forms should be critically reviewed at least every two years. Annual reviews would be best. It is rare that major changes are needed to reporting forms.
If you decide to modify your reporting forms, make sure you follow best practices, such as:
- Don't make the forms too complicated;
- Use adequate white-space to reduce clutter; and
- Don't have too many "required" fields;
- Include forms adaptable to both safety and quality; and
- Only ask questions that absolutely add value to the reporting process.
Safety managers are very busy and one of their biggest challenges is to increase hazard reporting at their airlines and airports. Well designed, easy to use hazard reporting forms will increase the chances that employees will report issues more than once. Otherwise, you are wasting everyone's time.
Learn what other tasks safety managers commonly do on an annual basis: